Friday, January 28, 2011

Are bears in the Smoky Mountains being mismanaged?

There is a pronounced tendency among some pantywaist poltroons in the U. S. National Park Service, in the Smokies and elsewhere across the country, to fall back on the tired old nostrum which suggests that their mission exclusively involves the natural world, humans be damned.

As you might tell from the quote, Jim Casada, book author and frequent contributor to several outdoor magazines, has a pretty provocative article on the Tuckasegee Reader website in which he basically calls out park service employees in the Smokies for not doing enough to protect humans from bears.

Casada's contention is that by not aggressively managing bear-human contact, bears are beginning to lose their fear of humans, which could result in more encounters and possibly deaths.

In a Little River Outfitters forum posting from earlier this week, Casada points out that:

Similarly, my brother, Don, covers perhaps a thousand miles of Park trails each year. He says that he has noticed a distinct change in bear behavior in the last two or three years, including two encounters this past summer in which bears showed no fear of him whatsoever.

In his Tuck Reader article, Jim offers a tried and true solution once used by the park back in the day:

All that is required is taking any of many actions which traumatize bears in the sense that they restore a healthy dose of fear of humans. There was a time, although the Park doesn’t like to talk about it, when bears which repeatedly caused “bear jams” (stopped traffic on Highway 441) got a serious dose of corporal punishment in the form of a spanking. Yes, that’s right—a good old-fashioned dose of hickory tea. The bear would be shot with a tranquilizing dart and then, usually after being transported, get a good whipping as it began to awaken. Almost invariably one spanking did the job.

There's also a current discussion on this article in the Backpacker Magazine forum.

So, do you agree with Casada, or do you think park rangers in the Smoky Mountains are following the proper and best bear management methods?


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